The long and short of the last few days is this—
Poetry is the only thing in my life that I can fail at and not feel like a complete loser.
It seems like all my other battles are the total sum of the war. I only view retreats as a marathon that never ends. My defeats seem like death. And even some of my victories only feel like a mad gasp of air in the middle of the ocean.
On the other hand, I have had a ton of roadblocks in my poetry life. Long bouts of writers block, booking failures, lost slams, rejection letters, bad features, ugly poems, etc. but none of those things ever stop me. Shit, they revitalize me! And I don’t even know why I’m fighting so hard.
I have no idea what my personal Grail looks like. I used to think it was the BOOK. One day seeing my name archived in the Library of Congress would be the last rung on the ladder but then I see the people around me, my peers/mentors/heroes and know that the day I get a book, I’m just going to start planning for the next one (actually, I will probably sit down and write a long list as to what is REALLY wrong with the book).
Outside of the serene white walls of this illusionary world I have built for myself, one person told me something that felt harsher than any barrage of critiques could feel like. They hit me in my Achilles Heel and I was done.